My tween and teens are a lot more tech-savvy than I am. They are naturally adept with today’s technology and have a skill for trouble shooting. I frequently find myself asking to draw on their expertise when I am learning a new social media app or gadget. Asking them to teach me how to do something sometimes gets me an impatient chuckle and accompanying eye roll – “Oh, Mom” – but it also allows us to trade places as they take on the role of the more experienced mentor and I do my best to role model how to be an open minded learner by accepting feedback and taking it all in.
A great strategy for learning something is teaching it to someone else. One good way to help your teen with their school work is to ask them to teach you. It can be a positive part of their homework habits. The age old saying “while we teach, we learn” holds very true. Sharing their knowledge can also help your teen to build their own enjoyment and interest in a particular topic and help them retain information. I have learned trigonometry and WWII just by asking my 16-year old to fill me in on what she’s doing in class. So we both benefit.
But beyond the benefits of learning a new technology and reinforcing homework lessons, asking our teens to teach us something new can help us to nourish our relationship and build a stronger connection. By showing a genuine interest, you are letting them know that you need and value their insights and expertise. Regardless of the skill – it might be playing basketball, a favourite dance move or a particularly challenging level of a video game – your interest in learning from them sends the message that their opinion matters and that you value what they have to teach.
It might take you out of your comfort zone but the benefits of building your relationship far outweighs the risk of potential embarrassment. My own attempts to master my son’s favourite video game by learning to navigate a sports car across a narrow course made him cringe at first. But I made gains because of his good advice and well-timed instructions (“Mom!!! Look out for pylons!”). Now we have a blast playing it together. To be honest, I never thought I would describe a video game as “my thing”. Hanging out with my 12-year old and having him proudly give me a fist pump when I mastered a new level under his watchful eye – THAT I can count as “my thing”. He is an awesome teacher – and because of that, I’m a willing student.
Asking your tween or teen to teach you something new can strengthen your relationship. And whatever the lesson is – the rewards are great.
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For parenting information or to speak with a public health nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.
About this guest blogger:
Kajsa Klassen – I am a public health nurse with the School Years Program. I love working alongside students, school staff and parents to create positive environments where all can thrive. As a mom of 3 I greatly enjoy sharing in the parenting journey with other Halton parents and all the adventures that come with it. Our family likes to explore the outdoors in our Halton Hills community.